10

The general internet knowledge says. If there is two puncture wounds it means you got bitten by the fangs of a venomous snake.

  • 5
    The exception would be a coral snake, which has to "chew" on you a little since the stubby fangs are in the back of the jaw. So that bite may look like a non-venomous snake like a rat snake, etc. – ivanivan Aug 9 at 14:04
  • 4
    For exceptions you start getting into "what part of the world am I in" and "have idiots released other snakes into the wild". But as far as native to North America, I think the coral snake is the only snake exception. Gila monsters are venomous as well, and they'd need to chew too, but that is a lizard not a snake. Also be aware that snake mouths can just be nasty with bacteria, etc. so even a non-venomous bite from a rat snake or similar could introduce some really bad things to your system... – ivanivan Aug 9 at 14:06
  • 13
    Alternatively, you got hit with a stapler. – jhch Aug 9 at 16:47
  • 3
    Though, if you are currently looking at a snake bite and trying to decide if it is poisonous, it might be better to go to a hospital than to wait for an answer to be voted up. :P – Aaron Harun Aug 10 at 12:20
  • 1
    @JohnHughes an unknown bite could also be a large spider. Hopefully one would be aware that they just got bit and be able to determine legged (and how many) vs legless at least, but I've worked with patients who had bad large spider bites that had no idea they had been bitten at the time, discovering it days later as the flesh started to go necrotic... – ivanivan Aug 10 at 17:15
20

I'd suggest being very careful with information about venomous snakes on the internet. The reason is the USA's traditional preponderance on that medium (particularly the English-speaking portion of it).

The USA is somewhat unusual in that almost all venomous snakes one is likely to encounter are Pit Vipers. These snakes have a special muscle for pumping venom through special extra-long fangs, so all they really have to do is poke you good with the fangs. That muscle also gives them a very recognizable triangular-shaped head.

The only real exception in the continental USA is the Coral Snake, which does happen to be super deadly, but is also very rare, shy, and geographically confined to the Gulf region. So in the USA traditionally a lot of helpful information created and published about dealing with "poisonous (venomous) snakes" is really just information about Pit Vipers.

In most of the rest of the world, the dangerous venomous snakes you are likely to run into are much more likely to be elapids (like the Coral Snake). As one of the comments mentioned, these snakes have very small fangs, and generally have to chew a bit on the victim to get a good injection. So with a bite from one of them, most likely you'll see more than just two small punctures.*

However, if you happen to be US-based as well, this is probably pretty good advice. Just don't go around thinking its applicable worldwide.

* - I think the victim is also unlikely to live from a good elapid bite, so perhaps practically the advice still holds in this case.

  • 1
    Also, while researching this, I discovered that a small % of animal related deaths in the USA are caused by Cone snails, which use a single fang. In that (admittedly rare) case you'd probably see one puncture. – T.E.D. Aug 9 at 19:27
  • 1
    One update: I noticed the OQ's profile claims residence in Turkey. So I looked up Turkey, and indeed almost all the venomous snakes there are Vipers (not pit vipers, but vipers). So perhaps a lot of this advice is as good there as it is for the USA. – T.E.D. Aug 9 at 22:18
  • 6
    @MikeWaters Rattlesnakes and copperheads are both pit vipers. – Carey Gregory Aug 10 at 16:00
3

According to this article: How to identify and treat snake bites - yes this does seem to be something which some people state as accurate.

Venomous snakes have two fangs that deliver venom when they bite. A venomous snake bite will usually leave two clear puncture marks. In contrast, a nonvenomous bite tends to leave two rows of teeth marks.

However, there are more symptoms to bear in mind as well:

It can be difficult to tell the difference between puncture wounds from venomous and nonvenomous snakes. People should seek medical attention for all snake bites. The typical symptoms of a venomous snake bite include:

  • two puncture wounds
  • swelling and pain around the bite area
  • redness and bruising around the bite area
  • numbness of the face, especially in the mouth
  • elevated heart rate
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • excessive sweating
  • fever
  • thirst
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fainting
  • convulsions

Therefore whilst this may well be a fact, it may not be reliable when diagnosing a bite. You're going to be better off getting some idea of what the snake is. This would be dependant on the area you're in, so make sure to get a good idea of the species in an area you plan to travel where it is likely you may risk a bite.

From my React Right first aid course material (sorry can't actually link to this) one of the restirctions on treating a snake bite state:

If possible, identify but do not attempt to capture or kill the snake.

As medical providers will need to know what the snake is, and it could be hard to tell from your swollen, red, painful bite wound.

  • And if you don't know what kind of snake it was, does it really matter? In a place with multiple kinds of venomous snakes you need to know what kind of antivenom to use. – James Jenkins Aug 9 at 12:44
  • This is true, you're much better off getting a view of the snake - though... hold on I can add something for this. – Aravona Aug 9 at 13:14
  • 4
    That article is standard North-America-only advice. – Mark Aug 9 at 19:27
  • I live in a country with one venemouse snake species :) so apologies, yes it probably is, however relying on the bite wound itself for identification and treatment is not ideally in any situation – Aravona Aug 12 at 8:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.